Residents frequently complain about speeding traffic.
Signs are only marginally effective, if the engineers design the roads to invite higher speeds. And make no doubt road design is not some innocent bystander in this. For years we have been making our roads wider, flatter, smoother, better lit, and pretending innocence when traffic goes faster.
It is faster by design.
The first step in fixing the problem is to measure the problem. You can’t fix what you didn’t measure.
Some Councillors are buying Speed Boards for their Wards. These boards tell motorists what speed they are doing. There is evidence that motorists slow down when their excess speed is pointed out, which reinforces the notion that motorists are unaware of speeding because the road design invites that speed. And lucky for us, motorists tend to keep to the correct speed for some time after the speed board sign moves on to somewhere else.
But eventually it creeps back up, invited by the City’s road design.
A speed board does more than just tell the motorist her speed. It also builds a data base. A very useful data base.
Here are the actual results of the speed board pictured above on Booth Street, northbound, in front of St Anthony Church. If there is anywhere one might expect motorists to be a little bit cautious of speed, it’s right in front of a church and school. And I can’t help but wonder if the proximity to a signalized intersection slows traffic since 50% of the time motorists see a red light ahead. The pavement is pretty rough too. So let’s look at the data.
Oh, by the way, the City’s review of the data is merely: Based on this information it seems that the speeds are consistent throughout all times of day with an average speed of 42km/h. Doesn’t the image of Shirley Temple come to mind?
Some people might be content with average knowledge. What might a more observant citizen discover?
Here is the daytime chart. Taken between 10 am and 12 noon. Speed limit 40 kmh. Note that 56% of vehicles are going above the speed limit. And look down in the bottom right corner: the fastest vehicles were going at 99 kmh — right at an intersection and in front of a school ! Imagine what that car would do to a lunch bucket, let alone its carrier!
And, notice that 97 vehicles were going over 60 kmh in just the midday two hour period (counted over 3 days)! This is 50% faster than the speed limit. That’s one very fast speeder every three or four minutes at midday. But on average, you know…
I am told that some of the excess speed is due to the “velocity factor” of motorists used to Queensway speeds who arrive on a residential street and then tend to resume their prior speed “because it seems natural”. Nothing to worry about here folks, move on.
So what happens at night on Booth Street? We are ignoring any cars that might stop on the street, perhaps to ask directions from people on the sidewalk, although their cruising speed will be captured in the data. Here is the Wednesday night data, for Wednesday May 2nd:
Only 62% of the vehicles are breaking the speed limit. But at least 16% actually would be somewhat compliant with a 30kmh limit. Our night time speed demon, trying to get to Hull before the bars close, was doing 84 kmh, twice the posted speed limit.
What was it the city said was consistent about the traffic?
I’d say it was pretty consistently dangerous. Like every day. Every night.
And here is the overnight data for Thursday evening:
I think it is important that when speed boards become more available in our residential neighborhoods that we get as much data as possible so as to permit an analysis that just might vary slightly from the City’s analysis.
Remember, that readers in the Civic Hospital area should contact their association to get involved in the campaign for 40 kmh limits in that neighborhood. And Dalhousie residents (Little Italy and Chinatown) that want to get involved should contact the Dalhousie Community Association’s transportation committee and watch for the pedestrian safety meeting coming in a few weeks.